Posted on 10 Comments

Path To Passion, Purpose & Identity

Path To Passion, Purpose & Identity featured image description is in the body of the post.

Path To Passion, Purpose & Identity

“Pay attention to the things you are naturally drawn to. They are often connected to your path, passion, and purpose in life. Have the courage to follow them.”

~Ruben Chavez

Birth of an Advocate

When I was growing up I remember feeling so small, powerless and insignificant. From an early age, kindness, compassion, and more importantly, the need to do the right thing was always important to me. As a child, I wanted nothing more than to make the world a better place. Accomplishing this goal would be a challenge without a roadmap to follow.

One thing I was really good at though was making poor life choices. Bad decisions like turning down a scholarship to marrying quite young and more, became my MO. Depression, poor self-esteem and emptiness derailed me more times than I care to acknowledge. Thankfully, my negativity was balanced by my tenacity and the desire to challenge myself to become more.

At the outset, I had everything against me. I was the product of a broken home, poor, black, female and I had an unhealthy portion of self-hatred. My childhood wasn’t the best and I learned early on that life wasn’t fair and to always be on guard. From my point of view, serious changes were needed but I couldn’t make change happen–I was just a kid. Even so, being a kid I knew injustices when I saw them.

Defining Success

Knowing my personal values were key components for me in becoming an advocate. Long before I worked for one of the “Big Four” accounting firms I defined my success. For me, success was always more than a cushy job, fancy title, or social status. Being able to adapt no matter the circumstances, to me, is a success.

When my three sons were small it was tough being a single parent. It was even tougher working full-time when one son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Looking back now it almost seems like the struggles with my son Devon was a bad dream. Today, Devon is such a joy and he is also a great source of strength to me.

My Three Greatest Accomplishments

  • Raising three sons to adulthood with very few support systems and even less in the way of material things. Adapting by going without became our protocol and we did alright.
  • Advocating for Devon by working with daycare centers and school districts was another full-time job. This meant learning everything I possibly could about special education and spending hours on end communicating with school officials. To this day I still have the 3-inch binder filled with IEPs, transcripts, etc. This doesn’t include the back and forth email communications and phone calls almost on a daily basis.
  • My third greatest accomplishment was advocating for my disabled mother who was denied disability benefits. Her last denial spurred me to begin a massive letter writing campaign to my legislators. The outcome? My mother received disability benefits in a matter of a couple of months.

My greatest achievements have nothing to do with employment, wealth or material things. These successes have everything to do with creating positive change by challenging a system.

Challenging systems or societal norms with a laser-focus to make life a little better for others is who I am. Ultimately it’s my ability to focus, a systematic approach, combined with a thirst for learning; that propelled me into advocacy.

Coming To Terms With Who I Am

As a die-hard introvert, my most comfortable place of residence aside from being at home is inside my head. While sometimes being inside my head can be a scary place to be it’s also where the magic happens. Ideas and dreams of a world where people of all abilities embrace one another despite our differences are my passion. Having respect for other’s opinions and being open to the idea that every person has a unique walk in life has expanded my world.

For so many years I tried to figure out who I am and what my purpose is only to find I’d been living it all along. Sure I made many mistakes and I think the greatest was not listening to my gut because I wanted to fit in. Today, I’m no longer concerned with conformity and I’ve found contentment.

Terms others placed on me like a buzzkill, intense, and quirky, used to bother me but no more. I am all of these things and more and it’s okay. While I’m not sentimental I find gratitude in the smallest of things.

It’s no accident I’m an advocate, after all, I’ve tried to pattern my life after my favorite childhood quote. This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson remains my favorite today:

Do not go where the path may leadgo instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Never in a million years would I have imagined I’d lose my sight. Learning to navigate the world with a white cane and adjust to blindness is an ongoing process. However, my life is so much more enriched largely due to advocacy and empowering others.

Path To Passion, Purpose & Identity Featured Image Description:

I’m wearing white jeans with a gray Steeler tee with our black and gold team colors. I’m standing in grass with a tree behind me wearing tan flats and of course my color coordinated gold #WhiteCane slimline cane.

Posted on 18 Comments

Managing Social Anxiety & Sight Loss

Managing Social Anxiety & Sight Loss

While appearing confident is important it’s more important to articulate what our needs are. Because I appear as if I’m in control people forget I can’t see and sometimes this hurts more than helps. I think part of my struggle here is the delicate balancing act of being confident yet knowing when to request assistance.

Bold Blind Beauty

These Four Walls

Recently I’ve talked with several of my blind & visually impaired friends about managing social anxiety and blindness. For many reasons, anxiety, as it relates to our sight loss, is a topic we don’t talk about frequently. On a personal level, one of my reasons is simply the fear of my fear. I feel like if I talk about it all the scary things in my mind they will come into existence. So how do I handle social anxiety and sight loss? The easy answer is I fake it.

Truth be told I’ve always lived with social anxiety and my blindness kicks it up several notches. A panic attack always lurks just beneath the surface whenever I’m in unfamiliar or heavily populated open spaces.

When you can only see blurry shapes, colors, and movement, it’s not ideal. Adding noise to this equation can overwhelm my senses compounding the anxiety. For example in a shopping mall environment, the expectation would be humans and service animals here and there. Without any central vision, I cannot see fine details so people’s faces are nonexistent. Whenever my grown children come by they have to identify themselves so I know who they are. So imagine being in unfamiliar territory with unknown people—no one stands out even people I know.

While being within the confines of my home makes me feel safer than anywhere else there are some challenges. When I’m home alone I know exactly where everything is, on the flipside when my son and grandson are here it can be chaotic. I rely on everything being in its place but when you share living space, there are bound to be problems.

The Moment Of Truth

Since retiring several years ago, my life mainly revolves around being at home on my computer. Blogging and social media have given me an outlet to connect with and live life vicariously through others. Even so, there is the inevitable grocery store run, doctor’s visit, or an occasional special outing that requires leaving home. Then there’s the dog.

As an animal lover and dog owner, it’s my responsibility to walk my Mollie. One would think that since I’m familiar with the area where I live this would be an easy thing to do right? Nah, it’s not that simple. See I live in a condominium complex without sidewalks which means I have to be constantly alert. In addition, I cannot use my cane when walking Mollie which makes me more vulnerable as drivers don’t know I can’t see. Many of my neighbors also don’t know I can’t see because I guard my privacy—so there’s that.

Today was a minor turning point for me as I admitted my fear and pushed through anyway. The first day at a new gym can be a little unsettling to anyone I suppose. For me, I was downright terrified but I’d put it off long enough and decided to be honest.

Because I’d called in advance the facility was expecting me but I opted not to disclose my disability until in person. With white cane in hand, I followed my son into the building. Once inside I met Tammy, the owner of the gym. I briefly explained my fears and she immediately put me at ease. She explained the gym’s offerings and told me she’d create a workout plan for me in large print. I was over the moon and may for the first time ever, take a couple of classes.

Lessons Learned

Today was a very good day. Was I still anxious? You bet I was! But being upfront with Tammy about my blindness and explaining what I can and cannot see helped her to help me. For far too long I let my fear control me and was afraid of being vulnerable, judged and appearing foolish.

I also think that while appearing confident is important it’s more important to articulate what our needs are. Because I appear as if I’m in control people forget I can’t see and sometimes this hurts more than helps. I think part of my struggle here is the delicate balancing act of being confident yet knowing when to request assistance.
Since empowerment is a key component of Bold Blind Beauty I sometimes feel torn about admitting my perceived flaws. Then there’s another part of me who understands that real empowerment and confidence comes from knowing when to seek help. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help.

My anxiety like my blindness is a part of me and will more than likely remain with me until my last breath. I do have a few additional tips that I’ll share at a later date. For now, though, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you ever talk about your fears?

Managing Social Anxiety & Sight Loss Image Descriptions:

The featured image, as well as the gallery of three photos, are of me on the treadmill. I’m wearing navy exercise capris, teal tank top, teal & navy sneakers and navy knotted head scarf.

Posted on 4 Comments

#BlindMKLady Hashtag Evolution

I'm Blind Why Should I Wear Makeup image description is in the body of the post

#BlindMKLady Hashtag Evolution

“‘You are not less of a person for using a white cane.’ This takeaway was life-changing for me; the cane doesn’t define you, it’s just a tool. After hearing this I became a different person and people noticed.”

~Amy Wilson

Hello Bold Blind Beauty Readers, 

Some of you may know me and some of you may not. Before I explain what this post is about, I will give a short introduction to who I am. My name is Amy Wilson, a middle-aged thirty-something midwestern woman.

For over 25 years I’ve been defined as legally blind and never considered myself a special or unique flower. Although, I’ve accomplished many things in my life that some say are exceptional. In fact, in the last few weeks, close friends have told me I need to improve my self-promotion skills.

I’m so bad when it comes to talking about myself. My husband is the same way—humble is the name of our game. Not my son though, he is the show off of the family. Each person in my wonderful family has their own disability. I only say this to tell you there is a lot of stuff going on in our household. 

The #BlindMKLady Hashtag Breakdown…

1. Let’s begin with why I chose to include the word ‘blind’

First, saying visually impaired makes it too long, lol, just kidding. In the world we live in, you are ‘blind’ to the sighted community even if you have residual sight. On the other hand, to the blind community, you are ‘sighted’ if you have a little vision. How does that even make any sense? So am I blind or not?

For over twenty years I hated when people would call me blind, I would go on the defense right away. Do you know where that got me? Nowhere really.

Being called a blind person bothered me so much I wouldn’t even use a white cane. So if I have ever shoulder checked you I am sorry. According to my ex-husband, I did it a lot but in 2015 that changed for me. I can remember it very clearly as I met people who I now call family. And you would never guess who they were? Yes! Other blind people!!! 

I mean I had previously met blind people, but these people didn’t let their blindness define them. Adding to this, was my takeaway ‘you are not less of a person for using a white cane.’ This takeaway was life-changing for me; the cane doesn’t define you, it’s just a tool. After hearing this I became a different person and people noticed. I no longer had a problem walking around with my white cane. If anything I think I strutted a little more. 

2. Classification of Being ‘Blind’ 

Last year I heard a speech that changed my viewpoint on being classified as ‘blind.’ It talked about how people put you into categories and how as blind people we do it as well. The point made was, ‘why are we segregating ourselves within our own blind community?’ Whether you have no vision or just been declared legally blind, guess what? You’re blind! Now let that sink in.

I know from personal experience it’s hard to take on the blind label. It’s especially difficult when you are new to blindness. When I heard that speech I made the decision to stop saying “I’m visually impaired” and just say “blind.” By doing this, I’m letting society know that ‘blindness’ is not just the ‘totally blind’ but me too. 

I’m blind so what? I’m still a Rock Star! No way am I a rock star but I think you get my point. And maybe you just have to listen to the P!nk song—”So What.”

3. What’s A MKLady?

The other part of my hashtag speaks for itself as I am a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant. I love the company, Mary Kay. This is actually my second time being a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant. 

My first time, with Mary Kay I was not confident in my blindness at ALL. I let it get in the way of having my own Mary Kay business. This time is totally different. I got great advice right from the start. If they can’t handle the fact that I am blind then they are just ‘not my people.’ Simple right?

‘Not your people’ can be used in so many different areas of our lives, even with family. Be confident in who you are, no matter what!!! Do I have regrets in my life? You bet, but I don’t dwell on those things—you can’t change the past and the future is tomorrow’s problem. However, you can focus on now.

Knowing Who I Am

I view myself as the #BlindMKLady and wouldn’t have it any other way. And I am not the only #BlindMKLady out there either. I’ve met other MK ladies and am personally building my team of blind and sighted ladies. My goal is to be the first blind Mary Kay Sales Director. It doesn’t matter how long it takes me. My goal is huge even for a sighted consultant. If you want to assist in helping me achieve this goal let’s chat. 

No matter what your goal is in life don’t let something like being blind hold you back. Blindness does not define you. You define you. Put your big girl panties on and make stuff happen. If you want someone to cheer you on, contact me, I will be your cheerleader. 

Be Bold, Be Beautiful and most of all be true to YOU!!!

Yours Truly, 

Amy Wilson, #BlindMKLady

You can find me on Facebook as Amy Wilson or my Facebook group called Wilson’s Wildflowers

#BlindMKLady Featured Image Description:

Closeup photo of Amy looking fabulous with her wavy brunette hair framing her face and sunnies on top of her head. She is wearing a blue/black floral dress with a v-neckline.

Posted on 12 Comments

5 Confessions Of A Blind Content Creator

5 Confessions Of A Blind Content Creator featured image description is in the body of the post.

5 Confessions Of A Blind Content Creator

Okay, so I have some confessions and now’s as good a time as any to come clean. As some of you may know, I joined forces with an amazing image consultant, Chelsea Nguyen, and together we’ve launched a digital magazine. We ultimately envision developing an accessible online platform where people across the disability spectrum can collaborate, create, and publish professional publications. 

Since CAPTIVATING! is where the power and possibilities of inclusion are limitless it’s a chip off Bold Blind Beauty’s block. As a matter of fact our missions are very closely aligned; CAPTIVATING! is about living and thriving with a disability. It is for all—everyone. Inclusion is the key word for both Bold Blind Beauty and CAPTIVATING!

Now that my workload has practically doubled I’ve been asked what it’s like and how I do it. I thought the best way to proceed forward would be to go through my workflow and share some helpful tips. I’ll wrap up today’s post with some exciting news to share with you! But first, confessions:

Confession #1

This blogging business is hard! Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not whining, although if I do say so myself I’m pretty gosh darn good at. When I say “good at it” I mean whining not blogging. Not that I’m bad at blogging but I’m better at whining when I put my mind to it. However, whining is not the purpose of this post.

When I first began blogging the major concerns from my point of view were content creation and time. If I thought developing fresh content was stressful I didn’t take into consideration:

  • managing the website
  • research
  • writing
  • editing
  • picture taking
  • video making
  • connecting and engaging with fellow bloggers
  • and social media, just to name a few tasks.

Confession #2

It was so exciting watching Bold Blind Beauty grow. With growth came greater responsibility:

  • not nearly enough time to visit my favorite blogs (because there are many and yes, I have a list)
  • curating relevant content to share on social media is ongoing
  • connecting with, scheduling and following up with featured guests is also ongoing
  • sometimes no matter how well I plan things go awry
  • additional features on the back end of the website make managing it a little more challenging
  • as the blog grew so did I as in age, as a result, the way I work has changed
  • growth on social media channels means more connecting and engaging with more people

Confession #3

Upgrading to WordPress Business Plan provides greater flexibility ie plugins, e-commerce solution, access to instant help, and more. On the other side of the upside:

  • it’s more costly
  • even more, time to update and sustain the site
  • learning to use new plugins to make life a little easier
  • because of confessions 1, 2, and 2, there’s even less time to engage with my blogging buddies

Confession #4

Since so much of what we develop as content creators are visual, this can make things a bit challenging. Limited eyesight compounds the issue yet there are many adaptations and workarounds we can use. But what about design elements? More importantly, how do you keep it all organized then post to multiple social media channels?

  • Canva, a web-based design platform is so easy to use a person without any design experience can create nearly anything.
  • Sendible is a social media management tool that lets you schedule and post to multiple social media platforms. Yes, even Instagram so no more emailing images to upload to Insta on your cell phone.
  • G-Suite like the name implies is a suite of Google products (docs, sheets, calendar, contacts, Gmail, etc.) With G-Suite you can create set up email based on your domain, i.e. smccoy@boldblindbeauty vs. smccoy@gmail.com. All of my images are grouped into general subdirectories like events, logos, products, quotes, and selfies. These directories are further broken down by more specific topics. For example in my boatload of quotes folder, there are advocacy, authenticity, empowerment, fashion, funny, etc. related quotes.
  • Trello is a project management tool consisting of boards, lists, and cards that I use to keep myself organized.
  • Sales Navigator Lite for Gmail extension allows me to see what contacts are on LinkedIn. This enables me to send them a connection request directly from Gmail.

Confession #5

I draw the line at SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

  • At my age, I choose what’s beneficial for me. Since my eyes glaze over whenever I hear the word “SEO,” Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress has been a lifesaver.

Summary of Confessions:

While the work I do can be incredibly complicated and time-consuming it is by far the most rewarding I’ve had the pleasure of performing. The amazing feedback I get from people all over the world is more than enough compensation. An additional bonus is meeting all of you and featuring some of you here on Bold Blind Beauty.

CAPTIVATING! Celebrates Women’s History Month

You may have been wondering how today’s featured image relates to this post. Well, since my friend and colleague created the image I wanted to brag on her. This amazing CAPTIVATING! magazine cover was created by Deloitte colleague Kelly Stephens. She took existing photographs from 5 beautiful women from all around the world and made it look like they are in the same room. 

In honor of Women’s History Month, @CaptivatingMagazine‘s editing team selected these women to be featured on the cover. The March edition was recently published and it features content about empowering women, Cerebral Palsy Awareness, a lovely children’s book review and more. The edition can be accessed here: March 2019. When you have a moment check it out.

5 Confessions Of A Blind Content Creator Featured Image Description:

Clockwise from the bottom left is:

  • Grace Nzomo is wearing a red scoop-neck sweater and her long wavy red hair is swept over her left shoulder.
  • Krystle Allen who has dark shoulder length hair is behind L.A. wearing a white blouse with a silver and gold medallion statement necklace.
  • L.A. is in the center. She has dark curly hair and she’s wearing a black dressy top and bright red skirt.
  • Kym Dekeyrel has long blonde hair parted in the center and while it can’t be seen in this photo she’s wearing a red and black floral dress with spaghetti straps.
  • Shaini Saravanamuthu is in the lower right corner dressed in a black cold shoulder gown. Her long gold statement earrings are a nice contrast against her jumpsuit and black wavy hair swept to the left.

Do you have any tips or tricks to share that make your life easier? Please do tell. ~Steph